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Month March 2010

Memoryhouse, Bonfire

By Jamie Harley.

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Moscow’s Stray Dogs

Via Financial Times, by Susanne Sternthal:

Russians can go nutty when it comes to dogs. Consider the incident a few years ago that involved Yulia Romanova, a 22-year-old model. On a winter evening, Romanova was returning with her beloved Staffordshire terrier from a visit to a designer who specialises in kitting out canine Muscovites in the latest fashions. The terrier was sporting a new green camouflage jacket as he walked with his owner through the crowded Mendeleyevskaya metro station. There they encountered Malchik, a black stray who had made the station his home, guarding it against drunks and other dogs. Malchik barked at the pair, defending his territory. But instead of walking away, Romanova reached into her pink rucksack, pulled out a kitchen knife and, in front of rush-hour commuters, stabbed Malchik to death.

Romanova was arrested, tried and underwent a year of psychiatric treatment. Typically for Russia, this horror story was countered by a wellspring of sympathy for Moscow’s strays. A bronze statue of Malchik, paid for by donations, now stands at the entrance of Mendeleyevskaya station. It has become a symbol for the 35,000 stray dogs that roam Russia’s capital – about 84 dogs per square mile. You see them everywhere. They lie around in the courtyards of apartment complexes, wander near markets and kiosks, and sleep inside metro stations and pedestrian passageways. You can hear them barking and howling at night. And the strays on Moscow’s streets do not look anything like the purebreds preferred by status-conscious Muscovites. They look like a breed apart.

There is one special sub-group of strays that stands apart from the rest: Moscow’s metro dogs. “The metro dog appeared for the simple reason that it was permitted to enter,” says Andrei Neuronov, an author and specialist in animal behaviour and psychology, who has worked with Vladimir Putin’s black female Labrador retriever, Connie (“a very nice pup”). “This began in the late 1980s during perestroika,” he says. “When more food appeared, people began to live better and feed strays.” The dogs started by riding on overground trams and buses, where supervisors were becoming increasingly thin on the ground.

Read the entire article, here.

100 Years Of Bicycle Posters

From Reserve LA:

Just in time for those nice Summer rides, this large beauty of a book is a great compilation of amazing bike posters. 100 years worth to be exact. Perfect for the coffee table, but if you’re trying to get creative, you can make about 50 framed posters out of this book. Released in 1973, this one is a rare 1st edition. Get it while it’s hot.

More details on purchasing one of the books, here. Spotted at Tracko.

Best Dressed Flahute

Spotted at Rapha Blog, by Joe Hall:

Eddy explains to Roger how he maintains his sideburns all season-long.

Good Bike Infrastructure = Safer Streets for Everybody

Via Treehugger, by Michael Graham Richard:

Here’s another video from our prolific friend Clarence Eckerson. It’s about a clever piece of bike infrastructure that the San Francisco Department of Transportation added to the ‘Wiggle’ bike route. It’s composed of a green bike box where bikes can wait to cross an intersection, and this sets them up for a dedicated left-hand turn lane that keeps them safe. This might be sound a bit confusing, but check out the video above and it’s going to be clear how it works. Let’s hope this spreads quickly! Via StreetFilms. See also: The News from NYC is Good: Transit Up, Cycling Up, Cars Flat

Pigalles, Paris

From Purple Diary, Photo by Olivier Zahm.

Hyena Laughs and Giggles Decoded

From BBC Earth News, by Matt Walker:

The giggling sounds of a hyena contain important information about the animal’s status, say scientists.

In the first study to decipher the hyena’s so-called “laugh”, they have shown that the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena’s age. What is more, variations in the frequency of notes used when a hyena makes a noise convey information about the animal’s social rank.

Details of the US-based research are published in the journal BMC Ecology. Professor Frederic Theunissen from the University of California at Berkeley, US, and Professor Nicolas Mathevon from the Universite Jean Monnet in St Etienne, France, worked with a team of researchers to study 26 captive spotted hyenas held at a field station at Berkeley.

There they recorded the animals’ calls in various social interactions, such as when the hyenas bickered over food, and established which elements of each call corresponded to other factors. Last year, the researchers published some provisional results from the study. Now they have confirmed that the pitch of the giggle reveals a hyena’s age, while variations in the frequency of notes can encode information about dominant and subordinate status.

“The hyena’s laugh gives receivers cues to assess the social rank of the emitting individual,” says Professor Theunissen. “This may allow hyenas to establish feeding rights and organise their food-gathering activities.”

Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are mainly nocturnal, living in clans of between 10 and 90 individuals.


• Spotted hyenas make up to 10 different types of vocalisation
• “Whoops”, with long inter-whoop intervals, are primarily used to signal that two individuals have become separated
• “Grunts” or “soft growls” are emitted when hyenas of the same clan come into close contact

Often they hunt cooperatively, but this can generate intense competition as clan mates converge on a kill, fighting over its carcass. However, among spotted hyenas, females dominate, holding a higher rank than all other males, whatever their age. Profs Theunissen and Mathevon’s research suggests that the animals convey this status via their laugh or giggle, which they usually make while fighting over food.

Previously their sounds had been considered a simple gesture of submission, but the new study has allowed researchers to identify exactly which individual hyena makes each giggle, and the circumstances in which they do so.

The information contained within the giggles could be especially important for males new to a clan, as they go immediately to the bottom of the hierarchy when they arrive. Getting to know quickly who is who may give these individuals a better chance of improving their own status. Giggles could also allow hyenas to recruit allies, for instance when one or two hyenas are outnumbered by lions fighting over the same kill.

Su Blackwell

See more of Su Blackwell’s amazing work, at her site: http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/index.php

Bikini Kill Archive

Dig it: http://bikinikillarchive.wordpress.com/

Krupeckaitė’s Gold

Via Eurosport:

Victoria Pendleton missed out on her second gold by the smallest of margins as Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite won the women’s keirin at the World Track Cycling Championships in Copenhagen.

The Brit, who defended her individual sprint title on Saturday, found herself in fourth with two laps remaining but powered around the outside in the final lap to challenge the Lithuanian on the final bend.

But despite finding the perfect spot on Krupeckaite’s shoulder, the Lithuanian had the strength to maintain her lead with Pendleton inches behind after a photo finish.

Read the rest of the article, here.